DON OWENS JR.
From Donald Adair Owens Jr. FORT WORTH – Don Owens passed away at home Monday February 5, 2018.
MEMORIAL SERVICE: 10 a.m. Saturday, February 17, 2018 at Wedgwood Baptist Church, Fort Worth. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Beautiful Feet Ministries of Fort Worth at www.thefeet.org or Leaders In Training www.leadersintraining.com . Don cared greatly about these ministries.
Don was born June 23, 1942 in Augusta, Georgia. He was a dedicated husband of 50 years to Linda Owens and father of two. His career included 30 years with Champion Parts Rebuilders and 19 years with Southwestern Petroleum Corporation of Fort Worth. His trust was in Jesus Christ. He loved and served his family. He was also a great fan of the Georgia University Bulldogs where he attended college. He was a leader and cheerful giver.
SURVIVORS: Don is survived by his wife, Linda Owens; his sons Donald Adair Owens III and wife, Danae of Fort Worth, and Ryan Stokes Owens and wife Mona of Haltom City; His grandchildren, Donald Adair Owens IV, Sarah Delanie Owens, Angela Eubank, Jonathan Medellin, and Christopher Reale
From the Service:
Watching Dad diminish physically since this summer was difficult for us to watch. We all continued as if it were a normal day, but we knew that it was far from normal. The words of Martin Luther on the death of his father were also mine two weeks ago. Luther said,
“Seldom if ever have I despised death as much as I do now. It has plunged me into a sadness not only because he was my father, but also because he loved me very much and through him my creator has given me all that I am and have.”
We are sad today that my father is not with us here, but we are also full of peace and joy for we know he is where he longed to be, and where we long to be, in the presence of Jesus.
For those of you that came in late, don’t worry, dad is not here so he won’t be judging your lack of timeliness.
If I have not met you, my name is also Don Owens – You may call me Don Owens the Lesser today and my son Don the 4th Don the least. However, since I am the shortest of every Donald Adair Owens I may be Don the Least.
My father taught us to be doers and so we have taken on the task of remembering and celebrating him today.
Look at this picture – isn’t great. Dad, Mom, my Aunt Jessie and Uncle Travis, four incredible people in one photo. They’re dancing at my cousin Sarah Yonker’s wedding a few years back. This is the image we have of dad and the way we remember him. Not to pretend that our lives were perfect, without challenges, heartbreak, frustration and trial, but that this is what we work for and what matters. Joy. Dancing. Celebration. Love.
It is important we share with you the source of his and our joy.
King David wrote during his reign in 1000 BC:
“Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Today my father is experiencing the promises of this psalm from 3000 years ago.
My dad had a few easy to remember quotes. The one we heard the most was “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” And I left out one of the Ps.
He certainly did this right up until his last days. He prepared to leave this earth, not just in the past weeks, but all of his life he was preparing for that moment.
There were a few other words my dad never failed to use on a regular basis, and he meant them when he said them and that was “I love you.” He was not one of those baby boomer fathers afraid to show his affection. He was a good Father. Direct in his leadership, firm in his discipline, gracious in his forgiveness and swift in his love.
Last week I was listening to some voice mails on my phone and discovered that there were some voice mails from my dad down at the bottom of the list I had not erased. Some from over a year ago.
So here’s a voice mail from Dad
PLAY VOICE MAIL
That’s how he ended even his voice mails. “I Love You”
PLAY VOICE MAIL
My father’s life was of great value and he got the most important things in life very right. And, your life is very valuable, and my father had the answer to how your life can be full of joy and well worth living and he asked us to share these truths with you this morning.
Let me share with you about him and his example, and give you some things to contemplate in your life when you leave today.
Donald Adair Owens Jr. was born in Augusta, Georgia on June 23, 1942. He was very much defined by his state of birth, the hard working lifestyle of a middle-class family, and the faith that is eternal. He was known by his family and friends in Augusta as Donnie.
He was the son of Donald and Sarah Owens, the husband of Linda Stokes Owens, our mom. Ryan Stokes Owens and I are privileged to be his sons. Our wives Danae and Mona he loved as a father. His grandchildren are Sarah Delanie Owens and Donald Adair Owens IV, Angela Eubank, Jonathan Medellin, and Christopher Reale.
His dad, Don Sr. worked all his life for Skinner Auto Parts in Augusta, and his mother paved the way for women in the work place and rose to the top of her station in the Richmond County Board of Education where she served for 33 years. He was raised by a hard-working couple and adopted their work ethic.
He always spoke fondly of his youth along the Savannah River. In the summers, he would take young men out to experience the outdoors on canoe trips from Augusta to Savannah.
Johnny Mercer’s lyrics take us to the banks of the Savannah in the song “Moon River”
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.
He and his friend Walter Dossier were always heading out to hunt in the woods along the Savannah. He once said he was surprised there were any rabbits left in Georgia from all the hunting they had done. He enjoyed the outdoors and did an excellent job indoctrinating a love of God’s creation in my brother and me.
The trips he took us on to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia and the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina became the defining moments of my person. I am never more at home than I am in the mountains.
I can see my dad in his Georgia Bulldogs cap and knee high 1970s tube socks teaching us how to catch trout. I remember our first ten-mile hike through the mountains with him. And thanks to that introduction I have hiked thousands of miles in the woods and hills and had time to contemplate the most important questions of life and quality time to spend with those I love.
Dad understood the Psalmist who wrote, “ In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” Dad loved nature not for itself, for it is nothing of itself, he loved it because it was a reflection of His creator.
For dad nature was a means to understanding God. As Paul wrote to the Roman Church, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
My dad loved the circus. He was like a kid about it even in his 60s and 70s. It’s one of the things he introduced me to that I never liked and still don’t. I do not like clowns, but he loved them.
For him it was magical. He took our kids because he knew I wasn’t going too. I watched his face just ten years ago and he was still as excited about a guy shooting from a canon as a three-year-old. The last Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baily Circus came to Fort Worth a few years ago, and he was there.
The circus was a place dad could comfortably show his childlike heart. Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Dad had the heart of child and this is how we are told to approach the big questions in life. With sincere interest, investigation, wonderment, and awe.
Dad worked his butt off all his life. Most of his career was spent in the automotive aftermarket with Champion Parts Rebuilders and the latter part of his career with Southwestern Petroleum.
To those of you who might be here from Southwestern Petroleum we want to thank you. You provided opportunity to this man in his later years, valued his experience and wisdom and provided and outlet for his knowledge. Our family thanks you for the kindness and opportunities you provided him.
All his life he cared about doing well and bore the stress that comes with caring about your work. He plugged forward to accomplish what he envisioned and let little to nothing get in his way.
My Uncle Travis wrote Dad a letter recently and a portion of it read, “You have a lot of determination and class. One of the things I always respected about you is your ability to know where you stood and your willingness to stand there.”
My father cared about his great responsibility of supporting a family. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy once saying, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” My dad and mom provided for me and my brother. We were well fed, clothed, and loved. He and mom not only provided for us, but our cup overflowed.
We have a wealth of memories traveling with mom and dad. I remember Dad and his friend Joe Vilifane dropped Ryan and I off on a corner and Harlem in New York City and drove off and this was New York in the 80s. We stood there with people passing by with dogs built to kill until the car came back around the block. We got back in the car and Joe said, “See Harlem isn’t that bad!”
One great memory from that same summer was spending time at the home of another one of Dad’s dear friends Jack and Anne Corbin. We spent time cruising and swimming in Lake Winnipesauke and laid in hammocks in the evening as the frogs sung out in the cool of the American Northeast.
Dad and Mom treasure their friendship with Jack and Anne.
By the time Ryan and I were in our mid-teens we had been to the top of New York in the World Trade Towers, hiked the razers edge of the Mountains along Hawaii’s Napoli Coast, walked the Freedom Trail of Boston, soaked up the history of Charleston, road Space Mountain, quietly passed the alligators of the Okefenokee Swamp, absorbed country music on the streets of Nashville, had seen Ruby Falls, skied in the mountains of Colorado, and experienced the countries roots in Washington DC, just to name a few. Dad and Mom gave us a bigger picture of humanity by taking us places.
Dad knew how to have fun. He once took us into the bayous of Louisiana and in place called the Chicken Drop Inn. In the sticks. We were surrounded by Cajun fishermen who were betting on which square the chicken would do his business when it was thrown out on the floor. They made my dad throw out the chicken and since I am in church I’ll say that it might have been possible my brother at 15 years old had the winning square.
My dad knew travel would expand our mind and our hearts. Saint Augustine wrote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
My parents took us to the best restaurants and Broadway shows. They taught us how to behave in the company of people of influence, they instilled in us southern manners, and they taught us how to love the least of these.
My dad was comfortable in the corner offices of powerful men, and he was just as comfortable on a deer lease sitting around the fire with a bunch of redneck hillbillies. And as a witness, he was accepted in all the circles he was in.
Dad and Mom once took us to a neighborhood in Atlanta that was very different than ours. We took food and toys to an African American Woman and her daughters who lived in a home that was more of shack. It was the most rundown place I had seen at that point in my life. Ryan and I sat on the floor and played with the girls and I remember the old holey wood floors and towel covered furniture. They introduced us to a reality – the world is a difficult place – the people of the world need our love and support.
Dad was a giver. He gave of his money and gave of his time. He gave a portion of his earnings to the church and others. He was a cheerful giver. My parents taught us from day one that you took the first 10 percent of your earnings and gave in the cause of the Gospel.
He committed to people. He had our family support missionaries across the globe because he knew the value of taking good news to others. The Norton family took on the hard task of bringing the news of Jesus Christ to Japan. My parents faithfully supported them and when the Nortons came to town he would have us sit a listen so we understood the purpose and value of supporting them.
My dad’s life was only half defined by his own person, the other half is defined by our sweet mother. In marriage two become one, and my mother was the partner that balanced out my father perfectly. She has made him a better person a whole person. She picked up for his shortcomings and she holds the secrets of his life that only a couple share. So while today I feel the loss of a son, I could not explain or understand the loss of a partner. Mom, we love you and thank you for your 50-year commitment to dad and your commitment to the covenant the two of you made in 1968.
Mom, hile the two of you have acted together for 50 years, you have your own legacy to your own name and we will continue to look to you for wisdom.
Donald Adair Owens Sr. and Jr. both loved and served their wives until death. They were both partners in supporting a family as fellow leaders and providers. They understood the covenant of marriage, its great value and its great rewards in life. This is a legacy of their name.
Again, it is impossible to speak of my father without talking about mom. The two of them believe in God the Father, All Mighty, Maker of heaven and of Earth and Jesus Christ his only son. Who lived, died and rose again, and who sits at God’s mighty right hand. An introduction to Jesus Christ is the greatest gift our parents gave us. The greatest legacy of my father and mother is their faith. Without this gift we would have nothing but a utilitarian family. Instead, we have love, hope, faith and purpose.
Dad took us to church, encouraged our faith, and mom offered the introduction to know the God of the universe in the hallway of our home in Wheaton, Illinois. On June 9, 1980 we said yes to Jesus and have spent the past thirty eight years working out our faith as Paul the Apostle asks believers to do. Without my parent’s faith, direction, correction, patience, forgiveness and love of Jesus I would have nothing else to speak to you about today with any hope. But because of their legacy of faith we have a full life.
My dad is with Jesus today. Paul speaks of a Great Cloud of Witnesses and there are many different thoughts about what this means, but it may well mean my father is watching us now. He doesn’t need our approval for he has heard the voice of Jesus say welcome and well done. But as a son who felt his father’s love I can say, Dad, well done.
Mom, thank you for the example the two of you set. We did not live in fear because the two of you were always there and always together. We did not live without hope, because the two of you worked out your disagreements. We did not live in doubt because the two of you loved us. We did not hate or dismiss God because the two of you reflected his goodness, His love for us as a parent. Parents who wanted nothing but what was good for us, correction for our mistakes and forgiveness for our failures. We understood a Trinitarian God who is three and one because you were both two and one at the same time.
My dad loved sermons and articles about eschatology. He wanted to know the details about heaven and the life after this one. He knew as we all do how short this life is and wanted to be prepared for the place he would spend eternity.
Much like C.S. Lewis my father was looking forward to coming home. Lewis wrote, “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from…Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
My father would describe heaven as it is in the Apostle John’s writing in his book Revelations. In the 12th century Dante in his Divine Comedy gave us the most powerful descriptions of hell, purgatory and heaven. Of heaven in Paradiso he wrote:
“O grace abounding and allowing me to dare
to fix my gaze on the Eternal Light,
so deep my vision was consumed in it!
I saw how it contains within its depths
all things bound in a single book by love
of which creation is the scattered leaves:
how substance, accident, and their relation
were fused in such a way that what I now
describe is but a glimmer of that Light.”
Dad has seen that light. The light of heaven.
I have another voice mail from Dad. This call was in the course of life, but now it holds a special meaning for me.
PLAY VOICE MAIL
Dad sought in his life not truth as he wanted it, or something that made him feel good, but that which was true truth. That which is real whether comfortable or not. That which reason, reality and revelation make clear. My Dad asked me to make sure those of you who do not share this worldview know a couple of things.
First, you are loved just as you are.
Second, we looked to the offerings of various faiths, no faith, pragmatism, self-reasoning, and science just for science sake. The only reality that brings the sufferings of this life, the joys of this life, the experiences of this life, the depths of the mind, the uniformity of the universe together…is Jesus Christ. God made a world and made us free men and women. He sent us on a path of love, labor and creativity. We all chose not what he defined as good, but what we wanted. He provided a way for us to understand love and obedience by submitting himself to our experience. He suffered in a way no other has ever suffered on a bloody cross separated from all that he was. And he showed us He was who he said he was through his resurrection as was testified by thousands. He called us to confess our failures, believe and abide in Him. Dad confessed, believed and followed and now he is affirmed in his faith.
John, a disciple of Jesus, and a witness to his death and resurrection wrote, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,” Behold the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from, their eyes, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain. The first things have passed away.”
Saint Ambrose is known as one of the Doctors of the Church. He wrote in the second century, “Death was not a part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning, he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life because of sin began to experience the burden of wretchedness in unremitting labor and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality would be more of burden than a blessing.”
Saint Ambrose speaks to us as technology advances. Those that come after us will live longer, maybe centuries. But that will never eliminate the burdens of life, the sorrows of loss no matter how long they live. And these compounded make this life unbearable. Christ has provided the best immortality. In his grace and his presence. That which my father knows today.
What comfort. What victory. What hope
So with this knowledge we can in our sorrow, also paradoxically celebrate. My father is the presence of the maker of the universe, reunited with his family of faith that went before him.
Phil Beck shares with us again.
I want to leave you with this - I call it voice mails from Dad.
Here’s what he would want us to playback and listen to In our minds and remember from his life.
First voice mail from dad:
Hey Son, show those around you that you love them but also say I Love You
Second voice mail from dad.
Hey granddaughter, be sure to create experiences with others. It is from those experiences that relationships develop and discovery takes place
Third voice mail.
Hey grandson, Travel. Go 2 miles, 20 miles, 200 miles or 2000 miles, but go. Meet people where they are and immerse yourself into their world. This is how we discover and love others that are not like us.
Fourth voice mail:
Hey friend, always remain committed to your spouse and do all you can for them, they’re a gift from God
Fifth voice mail from dad:
Hey there kiddo, make sure your working hard you have a calling to fulfil in your life
And the last voice mail from dad you should save:
Hey buddy, love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. Keep the faith but also share it.
Play those voice mails back in your mind. Act on them and your life will be full.
Let me end with a part of the 145th Psalm.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.
My family and I are grateful for your presence today and we would covet the opportunity to hug your neck and thank you for your support over the past months and today. We’ll be down front a look forward to seeing you and saying thanks. If you will begin on your left and work to the right to manage the line.
Amen – please go in peace.